One of Michael Jackson’s top aides cashed two cheques worth $1.5m in the weeks after his young accuser and family claim they were held captive and were to be whisked abroad, it emerged today.
As the prosecution’s case drew to a close, a bank manager told Santa Maria court, California that Marc Schaffel cashed the cheques from an account controlled only by himself and Jackson.
Beverly Wagner said she authorised the transactions in the first week of April, 2003 but had no idea how they were to use the money.
There was no indication as to whether Jackson received the money but the testimony was introduced to boost the conspiracy charges against the singer.
Schaffel has been named repeatedly throughout the trial in connection with the Jackson camp’s efforts to defend the star in the wake of Martin Bashir’s damaging documentary.
He is suing the star in an unrelated lawsuit, which claims he lent Jackson thousands of dollars for shopping sprees and he is owed more than $3m.
The first of three detectives to give evidence relating to telephone records then testified about a series of calls between Jackson, his associates and the accuser's family.
Sergeant Craig Bonner said the documents showed an upsurge of calls in mid-February 2003 – days after the Bashir documentary aired in the US.
The accuser’s mother Janet has claimed Jackson called her personally, claiming the family was in danger and urging her to take the family to Miami to take part in a press conference.
Jackson denies all ten counts against him. The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case after the last of the three detectives is cross-examined later this week.
The trial continues.